Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It

Today I am joining up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It. I have been wanting to join in since I started blogging, but never had.

This summer my daughter, Regan, has been going to the art camps offered at Michael's on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Every week they focus on a different continent with their art projects. Here she is making her pyramid with a mummy inside.

While she is making her crafts, I am required to stay in the store for two hours. Do you know how hard it is to stay in Michael's and not buy anything! It's only happened one time so far and that's because I left my teacher ID at home. One of the items I have been trying to work on was a title sign for when my students get an 85% or higher on their tests. Most of the teachers at my school have kids sign a bulletin board that says something about all-star students. The math teacher on my team has her Mathletes and has a different poster board for each snapshot (quiz) or test that the students sign. If they got a 100%, they get to sign a gold medal and glue it onto the poster board the rest of the students sign. At first I was going to go with Owl-some instead of awesome and have the 100s sign an owl, but that seemed so elementary school. I wanted to come up with something my students could really get into and that's where Regan's classes come into play. Two weeks ago, Michael's had their 12 X 12 scrapbook papers on sale and I saw one with mustaches on it and it made me think. A number of my students wear t-shirts with mustaches and jewelry with mustaches and use duct tape with mustaches to cover everything. So I got on my phone and searched for sayings with mustaches in it and found one. FAN{TACHE}TIC! And a light bulb went off. I went running around the store and this is what I came up with:

I used black foam board, 2 pieces of mustache paper, 4" black letters, 4" silver letters, and a few glitter mustaches to make my title sign. I love it and can't wait to hang it on a wall in my classroom!

I even found this print out over at Creator's Joy to use for my kids who get a 100% on a snapshot or test.

Until next time.


Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's Get Acquainted - Advice for New Teachers Linky

I am joining up with Latoya over at Flying into First for her Let's Get Acquainted Linky

This week's topic is advice for New Teachers. I remember my first year teaching. I got hired in the middle of the school year and didn't even get to meet my fellow teachers until lunch time on my first day. Then several years later, I switched to a new school system and it was like starting all over again. So here is my advice, whether you are straight out of college or switching to a new school:

BUY - low odor dry erase markers. The smelly ones give me and some of my students horrible headaches. I teach 6 classes a day and couldn't take the smell all day.

ALWAYS - be consistent. This is a really hard one for me, but you have to apply the rules the same to everyone. If you're not, the students will let you know.

NEVER - gossip. Don't talk about your fellow teachers. You never know when someone is listening, especially in a school.

FIND - a friend, another teacher who can help or mentor you. I had lots of questions about how my new school ran once I got there. I was lucky in that my district provides a New Teacher Mentor to all of its new teachers. There are two mentors for the five middle schools in my district.

MAKE - friends with the secretary and the janitor. This will make your life so much easier. Whether you need a few copies made in the middle of class (not the secretary's job) or a piece of furniture moved, being friends with these two is very important.

BE - prepared. In middle school, if you are not prepared your students will eat you alive. Always have more prepared than what you think you will need. I write my agenda for each class on the board and I cross off each activity as we go. If we don't get through it all, I move it to the next day if I need to.

Head on over to Latoya's blog to see what advice other teacher bloggers are giving.

Until next time.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Parent Contact

Yesterday my assistant principal posted this to his Facebook page and after reading the article it got my creative juices flowing. 


One of my parents biggest complaints is that they don't know when assignments are due or when there is a test. Number 3 in this wonderful list of tips is Remind 101. It is an app that allows the teacher to text parents and students without having to know their phone numbers or divulge your own number. How awesome is that? How did all this yet my creativity flowing? It means I need a new contact log to use this school year.

At my school we are occasionally asked to turn in our parent contact logs. I used one last year that one of my assistant principals loved because it had a spot to write down why I had made contact with the parent or guardian. I didn't like it for several reasons. One, it was in landscape and I wanted it in portrait layout. Second, it had a very elementary cover page and I teach middle school. And third, I wanted different contact types than the ones listed. So in the end, I created my own to use for the upcoming school year.

You can go to my Teacher Pay Teachers Store to download this contact log for free.

Until next time.


Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Classroom

On Tuesday I had to run by my school and drop something off, so I go to take a quick peek into my classroom. Summer school is being held at my school this year, but my room is not being used. Yipee! I used to complain about being the only core teacher on my hallway, but now I'm glad my room is across from the band room and next to two resource rooms. My assistant principal said I can come in next week and start setting up my room. Here is what my room looks like now:

My room has 31 student desks, 1 teacher desk, 2 tables, 2 file cabinets, 1 bookcase, and a grey storage cabinet. Last year I tried several different seating arrangements, but wasn't really happy with any of them. This
summer, I found this picture on Pinterest and had an idea.

I don't have the storage drawers, but I do have those metal cubes that can have extra shelves added by using cable ties. My idea is to put 5 desks together with two metal cubes made to have four shelves, one for each grade level I teach and one shelf to hold SmartPals for each student. I am going to use cut in half composition books to write foci in this year. I thought this would be a great place to store them and help with congestion at the classroom door. I will have 6 students groupings in the room. Hopefully this year I will not have another class of 30, it gets awfully crowded.

I'll upload photos After I get it set up.

Until next time.


Thursday, July 4, 2013

My first Tpt product

I just uploaded my first Teachers pay teachers product! Sorry, I'm a little excited about it. The scary part is that I started it over Winter Break and just finished it during Summer Break while I am at the beach.

The product is a set of 32 noun task cards and a noun poster. I got the idea of using task cards from my neighbor, Andrea, when I told her there was a rumor that my school was going to go from unlimited copies for teachers to a set number of copies each month. Well it happened. Each teacher now only gets 1500 copies a month and I teach roughly 160 students a day. All of that adds up to not being able to do a ton of worksheets. Andrea suggested that I look into task cards, so I did look. Most of the ones I found were way to easy for my middle school students, but I loved the idea of being able to print them on card-stock and laminate them to use over and over. So in the end, Andrea showed me how to create my own. I can't wait to do more.

Here is the link to my first item.  And a preview of the title card and noun poster. And now I'm off to make the next set. Hopefully this will help me to decrease the amount of copies I make and I hope my students like them better than worksheets!

Until next time,


Friday, June 28, 2013

Next Year and Exit Passes

Summer feels like it has just begun, and  I'm getting ready to start week 5 of my summer break! 

So this past year I got thrown back into the classroom teaching a subject I swore I wouldn't teach again: Writing and Grammar. To my amazement, it was not as bad as I thought it would be.  I spent most of my year figuring out how I could do what I just taught better the next year. For that I have to thank my supervising teacher during my student teaching. She made me go back every day and write down on my lesson plan one thing that worked well and one thing that didn't go quite as planned. At the end of the week, we would sit down and brainstorm ideas to try and make sure what went wrong wouldn't the next time. 

On that note, I found out in March that all the teachers at my school were going to go from having unlimited copies to only being able to make 1,500 copies a month. That was quite a shock! At that point in the year I was in review mode for all the other subjects on my hall because my state test was at the beginning of March. I promptly got all the review worksheets together and made as many copies as possible before the codes for the copiers were set up. So what does this have to do with next school year? I've decided I want to try to make as few copies as I possibly can next year. So far I have come up with three ideas: (1) composition books for my foci, (2) task cards instead of worksheets, and (3) exit passes on card stock and laminated to make them reusable. 

The one I want to talk about today is the exit passes.  I am required to have my students complete some sort of an exit activity everyday to show whether or not they understood that day's lesson. Last year I was lucky if I got this in one day a week. One day when I was surfing Pinterest I found a Pin for exit passes and it got my mind going. The lady had two passes on a page. I thought this was one of the neatest ideas I had seen. Only one problem, I wanted three on a page.  So I made my own and got my three to a page. I teach 6 classes a day with each class averaging 27 students. That left me with how am I going to tell one classes exit passes from another classes and even better, how are the students going to know which ones are theirs to use? I color code as much as a can and it hit me that I can color code the exit passes. Each grade level's color was decided by what color textbook was used in class: green, blue, or red. 

Tada! Michaels had their card stock on sale this week. And I got to use my teacher ID to get an additional 15% off. Next was how or where are the students going to turn in their exit passes. I don't always make it to the door to collect items when class is over. Shocker I'm sure. This idea came to me one night watching TV and I hope it works. One of the command strip commercials came on, the one where they hang curtain rods. I don't know why, but that gave me the idea to hang baskets up on the wall next to the door. It also meant another shopping trip, this time to the Dollar Store and Lowes. 

I can't wait to print out and laminate my exit passes or to hang my new baskets! I only have to wait 6 more weeks. 

I haven't figured out how to post PDFs yet. If someone would share that with me, I will post the exit passes. 

I hope this sparks some ideas for you all.

Until next time,


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Finally back after a long hiatus!

I can't believe I haven't posted since before my school year started and it's already over!!!! This year was much harder than I thought it was going to be. Teaching over 150 students a day is much harder than I had anticipated. Plus having three preps for 6th, 7th, and 8th grade writing when the pacing guides for each grade level are different isn't fun.

So to get my feet wet again in the blogosphere I am participating in Farley's June Currently over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

And because my amazing neighbor, Andrea, is the one who got me started and restarted with my blog, I wanted to share her 600 followers give away at Reading Toward the Stars!.

Hopefully I will be much better about posting in the future.